Our COVID-19 Response

Our COVID-19 Response

We are committed to transparency and keeping you informed as we continue to monitor and fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll post official updates here as they are available.

View Previous Communications

Oppose PA DOH Regulatory Changes

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has proposed a number of new regulations for nursing facilities. Among them is one that would be particularly detrimental to Heritage Ministries: increasing nurse staffing minimums to ratios that would equal 4.1 nursing hours per patient per day. That’s a number that significantly exceeds the minimum ratio in any other state where we operate. New York, for example, recently increased its ratio to 3.5 nursing hours per patient.

Heritage Ministries is committed to providing outstanding quality of care and we’re proud of our record over these past two very difficult years. At the same time, it’s simply not possible to meet this proposed requirement of 4.1 hours at a time when our industry—and the entire country—is experiencing a labor shortage and other challenges exacerbated by the global pandemic.

We need your help. The Pennsylvania Department of Health is currently seeking public comments on the proposed regulatory changes. We ask that you sign and submit the letter below by June 27 through one of the following options.

1. Email a pre-written message to the Pennsylvania DOH opposing the proposed regulations.

– OR –

2. Download this letter template to send to your legislator.

– OR –

3. Use the message template below.

Copy and paste the text below into an email to send (to RA-DHLTCRegs@pa.gov) or into a document to print and mail.

Pennsylvania Department of Health
301 Kline Village
Harrisburg, PA 17104

Dear Official:

I am writing on behalf of Heritage Ministries, which operates Rolling Fields Elder Care Community in Conneautville, to express my strong opposition to the proposed regulatory change that would require nursing facilities to provide at least 4.1 hours of nursing care per resident per day. Given the current staffing crisis in nursing and every industry, meeting this mandate would place an unsustainable financial hardship on Heritage Ministries.

Rolling Fields and all Heritage Ministries facilities are committed to providing outstanding quality care. I have seen the steps the organization has taken during these very difficult past two years to ensure that it continues to do just that for every resident. Heritage Ministries has provided salary increases to staff in each of the last two years, employee health and mental wellness services, incentive programs, increased PTO, and more to help with staff recruitment and retention. And as a not-for-profit nursing home organization, Heritage pays the costs for more than 50 percent of its residents through its benevolence and will not turn away residents.

All of this requires much more money than Heritage takes in from state reimbursement rates. Penalties that Heritage would incur from not meeting the 4.1 hours of nursing care under the proposed regulations is simply not practical. Without additional funding from the state and other support, Heritage will not be able to meet this threshold.

Rolling Fields provides vital services to its residents, families, and communities and employment opportunities to its staff. I would like to see the Department of Health work with organizations like Heritage to prioritize finding solutions for seniors over penalizing nursing facilities. Please do not allow these regulations to be approved.

Regards,

YOUR NAME HERE
YOUR PHONE NUMBER
YOUR ZIP CODE

Skilled Nursing Resident and Family COVID-19 Information Update

It is always important to for Heritage Ministries to put the safety of resident and staff first and foremost. With that being said, we at Heritage want to make sure that families and residents have up to date information, to assist them with making important decisions regarding the health of their loved ones. As of 5/24/22 the CDC, FDA, and NYS Department of Health (DOH) have updated their definition of “up-to-date” with COVID-19 vaccines. The guidance now recommends a second booster shot for immunocompromised staff and residents and for anyone age 50 and up. Data continues to show that being fully vaccinated and up to date with all vaccine guidance including the second booster is essential for protecting highly vulnerable residents and staff. It really increases your level of protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death with the new variants. We all have seen the deadly consequences of COVID-19 not only in the communities but also how it has affected the nursing home residents and their families.

Heritage will continue to follow up to date guidelines related to infection control practices to keep all residents and staff safe, this includes the CDC, DOH, and CMS guidance.

Currently, because of the risk of unrecognized COVID-19 infections among residents, any resident that is not up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccines and are considered new admissions, readmission, (left the facility for >24 hours), or exposed to another resident or staff that is covid-19 positive will  be placed in designated area (admission, unknown zone) to be monitor closely for 10 days to prevent possible spread of virus. New admissions or readmissions that are NOT up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations need to quarantine for 10 full days and complete the testing listed above. Health care providers and families visiting will be required to wear full PPE. If, after the 10 day period the residents have experienced no signs or symptoms of COVID-19, they may be removed from TBP and/or transferred out of the designated area can happen after day 10.  The resident not up to date with all COVID-19 vaccine recommendations must complete transmission-based precautions (isolation) requirements for a minimum 10 full days. Day of first symptom or test positive test date is day 0.

Residents up to date with all COVID-19 vaccine recommendation will not be placed in isolation unless they test positive for COVID-19, but may be subjected to testing. Testing is not recommended for people who have had SARS-CoV-2 infection is the last 90 days, if they remain asymptomatic, including if they have had close contact or a higher-risk exposure. If the resident develops symptoms, at any time after admission, the need for TBP begins again with the date the symptoms started (now considered day 0) and TBP should extend to day 10 using this symptom onset date.

OUTBREAK TESTING – An outbreak is defined by a new COVID-19 infection in any healthcare personnel or resident residing in the nursing home, excluding new admissions admitted with COVID 19. A new COVID-19 infection triggers an outbreak investigation.  Rapid identification and isolation of new cases is critical in stopping further transmission. Residents with signs or symptoms of COVID-19, whether fully vaccinated or not, must be tested immediately. While test results are pending residents will be placed on transmission based precautions. Once test results are obtained, the facility will take the appropriate action based on the results. A RT-PCR should be completed at the time of a negative rapid test of symptomatic residents and sent to local lab for testing. Contact tracing- all residents with connections to the COVID 19 positive employee or resident will be identified.  The exposure period starts 2 days prior to the test date or onset of illness through the employees last day of work or when the resident was placed in quarantine.

REFUSAL OF TESTING – Residents may decline testing. Education on the importance of testing will be done. Any resident who has signs or symptoms of COVID-19 and refuses testing will be placed on transmission based precautions until criteria for discontinuing is met. During outbreak testing, an asymptomatic resident that is up to date with vaccines refuses testing will have increase monitoring/screening for 14 days, must maintain social distancing from other residents, wear a mask ( if tolerated), and practice effective hand hygiene until the procedures for outbreak testing is completed.

Thank you, for your continued assistance with keeping all of our residents and staff safe.

Oppose NY A.286/S.1997 – Act Now

Dear Friend of Heritage,

This week, bill A.286 (Gunther) was added to the New York State Assembly Debate list. If the Assembly chooses to take up the debate list, this bill threatens to be passed in the Assembly. Due to the pandemic and associated healthcare staffing crisis, the health and well-being of our most vulnerable NY State residents are at risk due to years of chronic underfunding and lack of state support during a once-in-a-century pandemic. We ask you again to come alongside Heritage and advocate for the seniors we serve.

What the bill does. A.286/S.1997 would increase penalties on providers for requiring mandatory overtime of nurses. This bill proposes civil penalties of up-to $1,000 for a first violation, $2,000 for a second violation, or $3,000 for a third or subsequent violation. The employee shall receive an additional fifteen percent of the overtime payment from the employer for each violation as damages.

How does this affect Heritage?

Heritage is committed to providing comfort and care to each resident we serve. While we do not mandate overtime on a regular basis for our nursing staff, and often staff volunteer to cover if needed in critical events, there are extreme circumstances when this may become necessary such as crisis events including weather-related issues or extreme staffing shortage circumstances due to mass call-offs or casualty events. This has always been a part of our emergency policies and procedures. This proposed bill places nursing homes in an impossible position due to the need to comply with the new laws on nursing home staffing hours. With this bill, most nursing homes across the state will be required to choose between being penalized for not reaching the nurse hours requirement, or being penalized for having to use mandatory overtime in order to comply with the nurse hours law. This mandate could force nursing homes throughout New York State to face large fines if not in compliance, discontinue admissions, close units, or even be forced to sell, or close their doors permanently.

What does this mean for my loved one?

We are committed to the health and safety of both our staff and residents. Our dedicated staff already do so much and work so hard for our residents during a standard work week. The last thing we want to do is require overtime of our existing nurses. However, to remain in compliance with the newly passed staffing requirement minimums, and in the event that our residents’ needs require our organization use mandatory overtime to provide critical care and service, we should not be penalized for doing so.

How can I help?

The solution to reducing nurse overtime is to provide better Medicaid reimbursement to allow for more competitive salaries, and more investment in training new nurses. The answer is not to impose more penalties.

PLEASE CALL YOUR STATE ASSEMBLY MEMBER NOW to oppose A.286 (Gunther) when it comes up for a vote on the Assembly Floor. After you place a call to your Assembly Member’s Office, please also send this digital advocacy letter to your Assembly Member, Senator and the Governor. Find your Assembly Member’s phone number here.

Again, we share this information so you can understand our commitment to those we serve. We are happy to answer any questions you might have. Please contact Sallie Williams, Vice President of Advancement at advocacy@heritage1886.org for more information or to share your concerns.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support for Heritage and our greatest generation, our seniors.

Two Proposed Bills – Act Now

Friends of Heritage, we reach out to you today to again share updates in how recent legislation concerns in New York State continue to impact those we serve. Two bills have been proposed in New York State that will directly impact assisted living communities, including Heritage if passed.

What are the bills?

  • 196 (Gottfried)/S.1576 (Rivera), is a proposed bill potentially severe impacts. If passed would impose new costly and potentially devastating requirements and penalties for organizations, including Heritage, who provided assisted living services to seniors. The bill increases the potential penalties for assisted care facilities (ACF) violations from $1,000 to $2,000 per violation per day – or $3,000 for a repeat violation. ACFs are already struggling under the weight of regulations, with COVID-19 almost daily introducing new challenges, risks, mandates, costs, and severe penalties. The Department of Health (DOH) already works to issue fines at their discretion when warranted, and this increase is unreasonable – the bill removes that flexibility. For example, ACFs have been required to submit a daily COVID-19 report to the DOH. They receive a violation if it is submitted even a few minutes late; and yet, there are so many reasons why staff are being pulled in many different directions leading to a late submission, including most importantly, the top priority for all of us – resident care.
  • Another bill, has advanced to the Senate Finance committee. Bill 9575 (Solages)/S.1593 (Rivera), would allow ACFs to directly employ licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or registered nurses (RNs) to provide care is assisted living communities, including Heritage. The passing of this bill could help us provide additional, and often much-needed, care to our assisted living residents as they continue to live vibrant lives in the place they call home.

What does this mean for Heritage?

At Heritage, we remain committed to providing care that meets, and often exceeds, all standards provided by NYS, and continue to do so. Increasing the fines to care communities—with the maximum potential fine per violation per day rising to $3,000 – will be devastating for many organizations, including Heritage, and could lead to driving up the cost of care for residents, reduced admissions, or being forced to close their doors permanently and forcing residents to move to a skilled nursing community.

Additionally, allowing RNs and LPNs to provide care in assisted living communities will allow many organizations, including Heritage to provide additional, and often much-needed, care to our assisted living residents as they continue to live vibrant lives in the only place they call home.

How can I help?

Click HERE to let your elected representative know you oppose A.196/S.1576, which imposes increased fines on assisted living communities.

Click HERE to let your elected representative know you support passing A.9575/S.1593 and let them know what positive impact passing the bill will have for the seniors we serve.

Again, we share this information so you can understand our commitment to those we serve, we are happy to answer any questions you might have. Please contact Sallie Williams, Vice President of Advancement at advocacy@heritage1886.org for more information or to share your concerns.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support for Heritage and our greatest generation, our seniors.

How You Can Advocate With Us

Dear Friend of Heritage,

We reach out to you today to again share updates in how recent staffing mandates and budget concerns in New York State continue to impact nursing homes and those we serve.

The Background

As you know, a recent state New York State mandate regarding staffing was to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, requiring that nursing homes provide a quarterly average of 3.5 hours per resident per day of overall nursing services (which is comprised of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and aides). However, the Governor had, through Executive Order, delayed penalties for failure to meet the standards due to the current workforce shortage that is being felt throughout the healthcare system in the state.

On March 31, the Governor issued an updated Executive Order which continued a “statewide disaster emergency due to healthcare staffing shortages” in light of “severe understaffing in hospitals and other healthcare facilities” that is “expected to continue to affect the ability to provide critical care and to adequately serve vulnerable populations.” The order did not, however, continue the delay of penalties on nursing homes for failure to meet staffing mandates. As a result, the mandate took effect on April 1st, 2022. It is perplexing that the current health care staffing crisis is being recognized throughout the health care system, except in nursing homes.

What is Heritage doing to handle the situations presented by this mandate?

We want to assure you that, at Heritage, staffing has always been the top priority to us. We would like nothing more than to have enough staff to meet or exceed the mandates outlined in law. Our nurses and aides are fundamental to the high-quality care we are committed to providing. Unfortunately, there is a very serious workforce shortage right now, and despite ongoing efforts over the years, it has become harder and harder to recruit and retain staff. An analysis of the federal data discovered that 80.4% of nursing homes in the state would not be in compliance with this new mandate. Unfortunately, staffing shortages have grown since the time that data was collected, suggesting that even fewer will be able to comply today. Estimates indicate that 12,000 nurses and aides are needed, with over 9,000 needed immediately, to comply with the mandate.

There are other factors that contribute to this workforce shortage, and the pandemic has taken a particular toll on the healthcare workforce. But the state’s severely outdated Medicaid rate makes it particularly difficult for us to compete with other settings for the staff we need. Medicaid pays for nearly three quarters of all nursing homes resident days in the state, and is among the worst in the nation when payment is compared to costs. We are at the mercy of the state’s Medicaid rates, and it is not realistic to expect that private pay residents should shoulder the entire Medicaid shortfall.

Unfortunately, the consequence of failing to meet the staffing mandate is significant financial penalties, which will actually make it harder for us to pay higher wages and recruit people to work in our nursing homes. We felt it important that you understand that the promise of this mandate is a false one. Until we can recruit more staff, we cannot be in compliance, despite the state’s decision to begin penalizing homes that cannot meet the requirement.

What does this mean for you and your loved one?

We are committed to providing high-quality care. We will continue to work to recruit more staff, and we will work to ensure that the staff we have—who have been working so hard, particularly over the last two years, stay with us. We may need to make some hard decisions. We may need to stop taking new admissions. Our decisions will be guided by our mission to provide quality care and meet the requirements of the state mandate.

What can you do to help?

1. First and foremost, please understand that we have been working tirelessly to recruit and retain workers, well before this mandate.

2. You can help us find good people! If you know people that you think may want to work with us, send them our way or have them apply directly on our Careers Page.

3. Make your voice heard. You can also contact your state legislators and Governor Hochul to let them know that nursing homes are in desperate need of state funding to recruit and retain more workers. You can find information on how to contact your representative on our Advocacy Page. Every voice matters.

Again, we share this information so you can understand our commitment to increasing our staff, since quality care is our shared priority. We will keep you informed regarding our progress as it relates to meeting this mandate, and we are happy to answer any questions you might have. Please contact Sallie Williams, Vice President of Advancement at advocacy@heritage1886.org for more information or to share your concerns.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support for Heritage and the seniors we serve.

Heritage Welcomes National Guard

Dear Friend of Heritage,

The pandemic has presented many challenges since it began. As we continue in the ongoing fight against COVID-19, I cannot begin to thank our valued employees enough for all they have done, and continue to do. They have continued to again, and again, rise to the occasion, offering help whenever, and wherever, it is needed, despite constant challenges, including ever-changing regulations, vaccine mandates, and staffing. They always will have my undying gratitude, and truly are the reason we will continue to remain #HeritageStrong.

We continue to explore additional opportunities to support our employees. While our staffing ratios have remained higher than many healthcare organizations nationally throughout the pandemic, this week, we have chosen to welcome help from members of the National Guard, at our skilled nursing communities in Chautauqua County. These dedicated individuals will provide much-needed temporary assistance and relief to our front-line teams at Heritage who have heroically and tirelessly led the way since March 2020. We welcome them, their passion to serve, and their support with open arms as we all work together to safely provide for our beloved residents, as we have for over 135 years.

In the upcoming days, our administrators will be working closely with each of our teams, and our residents, to explain their arrival, the duties and responsibilities each National Guard member will have while on site, and what to expect.

We are so grateful for the blessing of our service men and women, and thank them for their service to our country, and Heritage, as they come to the aid of our own Heritage heroes and residents.

Please join me in welcoming this new wave of heroes to our Heritage family.

Sincerely,
Lisa Haglund
President and CEO
Heritage Ministries

Discontinuation of Robo Calls

Dear Friend of Heritage, 

At Heritage, we’ve always worked to keep you informed and meet regulatory requirements for COVID-19. 

As you are aware, we have been using the robo call system to inform you of COVID-19 positive cases in communities per state regulation. 

As we work to remain transparent, keep you updated with the latest information, and simplify our COVID-19 communication for you, we will be transitioning all of our information to a central location, and you will no longer receive a robo call each time there is a COVID-19 positive case. Please be assured that if your loved one tests positive, we will always notify you personally, as we have done throughout the pandemic. 

You can find all of our most current information, including case counts and visitation information on our website here. This information is updated daily and available to you at all times in one location for quick and easy access. 

Thank you for your continued prayers, support, and understanding. 

Sincerely,
Lisa Haglund
President and CEO
Heritage Ministries

Visitation at The Park Suspended

 Dear Friend of Heritage, 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect people of all ages. Heritage has always been committed to putting the safety and well-being of those who we both serve, and employ, as our top priority, and during these challenging times, our entire team is working tirelessly to ensure the safety of your loved one. 

In recent days, we have experienced a significant increase in COVID-19 positivity rates at The Park, our rehabilitation and skilled nursing community in Jamestown, NY. 

As with an increase in positive COVID-19 test results in any of our communities, we worked to immediately begin precautionary increased testing beyond required New York State mandates to identify any additional cases. The testing allows us to quickly identify and proactively respond to additional COVID-19 positive staff and residents. Our staff who tested positive are currently in quarantine, and will not return to work until further notice. All of our resident families have been notified as their loved ones have been affected. In accordance with HIPAA requirements, no further details regarding positive residents or employees will be released. 

At Heritage, the health and safety of both our residents and staff is of the utmost importance, and I want to assure each of you that your loved ones are safe, loved, and being well cared for. The steps we have implemented are directly tied to the recommendations and guidelines of the CDC and state, local, and federal regulations, and we will adjust these steps if those recommendations change. In addition, our COVID-19 positive residents are cared for in a dedicated unit by specially assigned staff who have no interaction with any other residents or staff. All potentially impacted areas have been thoroughly cleaned, and enhanced PPE is being used as needed in our communities. 

Working to address this recent increase in COVID-19 at The Park, New York State has now recommended we suspend all in-person visitation at The Park, effectively immediately, until further notice. If we receive any additional information, we will promptly share it with you. 

We will offer window visits and on-line Zoom and FaceTime visits for those who wish to have another means to visit their loved one. Please contact the front desk at The Park directly to schedule your visitation by calling (716) 488-1921. We will help you to connect with your loved one in any way that we are able to do so. 

We understand the frustration that COVID-19 mandates and restrictions have presented for our residents and loved ones since the onset on the pandemic and thank you for your continued prayers, support, and understanding as we navigate through each challenge. 

Sincerely,
Lisa Haglund
President and CEO
Heritage Ministries

Visitation at The Park Discouraged

Dear Friend of Heritage, 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect people of all ages. Heritage has always been committed to putting the safety and well-being of those who we both serve, and employ, as our top priority, and during these challenging times, our entire team is working tirelessly to ensure the safety of your loved one. 

In recent days, we have experienced a significant increase in COVID-19 positivity rates at The Park, our rehabilitation and skilled nursing community in Jamestown, NY. 

As with an increase in positive COVID-19 test results in any of our communities, we worked to immediately begin precautionary increased testing beyond required New York State mandates to identify any additional cases. The testing allows us to quickly identify and proactively respond to additional COVID-19 positive staff and residents. Our staff who tested positive are currently in quarantine, and will not return to work until further notice. All of our resident families have been notified as their loved ones have been affected. In accordance with HIPAA requirements, no further details regarding positive residents or employees will be released. 

At Heritage, the health and safety of both our residents and staff is of the utmost importance, and I want to assure each of you that your loved ones are safe, loved, and being well cared for. The steps we have implemented are directly tied to the recommendations and guidelines of the CDC and state, local, and federal regulations, and we will adjust these steps if those recommendations change. In addition, our COVID-19 positive residents are cared for in a dedicated unit by specially assigned staff who have no interaction with any other residents or staff. All potentially impacted areas have been thoroughly cleaned, and enhanced PPE is being used as needed in our communities. 

Working to address this recent increase in COVID-19 at The Park, we are asking our families to strongly consider limiting or suspending your in-person visitation of your loved one to protect both our residents and staff from any possible community spread. While we are not required to officially suspend visitation at this time, there is a possibility that within the next 24-48 hours we may be required by New York State to suspend all in-person visitation if our positivity rate threshold remains above the limits set by New York State. If we receive any additional information, we will promptly share it with you.

We will offer window visits, front door visits, and on-line Zoom visits for those who wish to have another means to visit their loved one. Please contact the front desk at The Park directly to schedule your visitation by calling (716) 488-1921. 

We understand the frustration that COVID-19 mandates and restrictions have presented for our residents and loved ones since the onset on the pandemic and thank you for your continued prayers, support, and understanding as we navigate through each challenge. 

Sincerely,
Lisa Haglund
President and CEO
Heritage Ministries

COVID-19 Delta Variant Update

Dear Friend of Heritage,

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect people of all ages. Recently, the nation has experienced an increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases, with the entrance of the new Delta COVID-19 variant. Heritage has always been committed to putting the safety and well-being of those who we both serve and employ, as our top priority. During these challenging times, our entire team is working tirelessly to ensure the safety of your loved one. I cannot begin to thank our staff for all they have done to help our residents and their loved ones. They continue to again and again rise to the occasion, offering help whenever, and wherever, it is needed. They have my undying gratitude and truly are the reason we are #HeritageStrong.

As our teams continue to protect each senior who calls a Heritage community home from this unprecedented illness, I want to personally thank you for your constant patience, support, and understanding over the eighteen months.  While we understand you may feel weary living in the constantly changing world of COVID-19 guidelines, we also know that this battle is not yet over. I also wanted to share with you the practices below that will remain in effect until further notice as we work together to keep those we love safe, healthy, and free from harm.

  • All staff and visitors in Heritage independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation communities, nationwide, are required to wear face masks at all times. We continue to screen our staff daily and continue to follow all testing guidelines, as required.
  • Visitation at all skilled nursing facilities and assisted living will continue to be held as allowed by current Department of Health and CDC guidelines.
  • We encourage residents in all communities to wear a mask as they are able, regardless of vaccine status, in accordance with CDC recommendations.
  • We encourage our residents, staff, and loved ones to consider receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Acknowledging that many have concerns and questions, Heritage encourages all residents, their families, and staff to educate themselves on the potential benefits and risks of receiving the vaccine in order to determine which option is right for them. On our website, heritage1886.org/coronavirus, you will find a variety of resources from the CDC to share with your loved ones as you make your decisions.

We continue to seek God’s wisdom and pray for His protection for as we seek to keep each resident and staff member safe, and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living in these difficult times.

Sincerely,
Lisa Haglund
President and CEO
Heritage Ministries

NYS State of Emergency Update

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced today, June 23, 2021, that the State of Emergency that has been in place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic will expire on Thursday, June 24.

At this time, our assisted living and skilled nursing communities in New York State are still required to follow the COVID-19 guidelines and regulations already in place, as provided by the Department of Health. Our COVID-19 team is working diligently to ensure that as we receive any new guidelines or information we will communicate them quickly to our staff, residents, and families. If you have any questions at all, please email questions@heritage1886.org or contact the administrator of the Heritage community your loved one calls home, and they will be happy to assist you.

NYS Vaccination Threshold Updates

At Heritage, we are excited to see that New York State has reached the 70% vaccination threshold for COVID-19 and is lifting restrictions in many areas. At this time, our assisted living and skilled nursing communities in New York State are still required to follow the COVID-19 guidelines and regulations already in place, as provided by the Department of Health. As we receive any new guidelines or information we will work to communicate them quickly to our staff, residents, and families. If you have any questions at all, please email questions@heritage1886.org or contact the administrator of the Heritage community your loved one calls home, and they will be happy to assist you.

NYS Visitation Updates

Dear Heritage Family,
Late this week, New York State released new guidance regarding visitation for nursing homes. We understand the frustration that COVID-19 mandates and restrictions have presented for our residents and loved ones over the past several months, and are excited about the new information included in this guidance, including the opportunity to FINALLY have physical contact with your loved one. I know how long you have all waited for that hug, and cannot be happier to share with you that that day is finally almost here!

Early next week, we will begin opening visitation under the new guidance in our skilled nursing communities, as allowed by New York State. With these new changes and the increase in vaccination rates, we are hopeful for a future which continues to reunite our families and residents. If you would like to be contacted next week regarding these visitations, please call your community directly, or email questions@heritage1886.org.

We understand what a challenging year this has been for both you and your loved ones, and we want to thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue through these
unprecedented times together. While we know that this new visitation guidance reflects hope, we encourage our resident family members to continue to advocate with us for more reasonable and thoughtful approaches to visitation policies as we enter this next phase. While progress is not always made on the issues as quickly as we would like, family advocacy is critical to the success we will see. We urge you to come alongside Heritage as we continue to advocate for our residents by visiting our advocacy page here.

Sincerely,
Lisa Haglund
President and CEO

Visitation and Vaccines

At Heritage, the health and safety of both our residents and staff continues to be of the utmost importance. We are doing everything that we can to care for our residents, and offer continued comfort and support, as we continue to fight COVID-19. The steps we have implemented to date are directly tied to the recommendations and guidelines of the CDC and state, local, and federal regulations, and in recognizing this is an ever-changing situation, we immediately adjust these steps if recommendations change, as permitted by regulatory agencies.

This week, the CDC released new guidance regarding individuals who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, and how they may be in contact with other vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Additionally, CMS released new visitation guidance for nursing homes. We understand the frustration that COVID-19 mandates and restrictions have presented for our residents and loved ones over the past several months.

We recently reached out to New York State questioning the new guidance for clarification. This guidance from the CDC, while encouraging, does not, unfortunately, apply to our skilled nursing and assisted living communities located in New York State at this time. The regulations provided by New York State, which are stricter in nature, supersede any CDC or CMS guidance or recommendations. At this time, Heritage is still required to follow the New York State guidance for visitation.

While we wait for the updated guidance from NYS, we do have good news that the NYS holiday guidance, which required residents who left the facility to have a negative COVID test prior to returning, is no longer in effect.

With these new and expected changes, along with the increase in vaccinations, we are hopeful for a future which brings families and residents together.

We understand what a challenging year this has been for both you and your loved ones, and thank you for your patience and understanding as we have navigated through these unprecedented times together. Many skilled nursing and assisted living communities in New York, including Heritage, continue to struggle under current state guidelines and restrictions. We encourage our resident family members to advocate with us for a more reasonable, thoughtful approach to these policies. While progress is not always made on the issues as quickly as we would like, family advocacy is critical to the success we will see. We urge you to come alongside Heritage as we continue to advocate for our residents by visiting www.heritage1886.org/advocacy.

Letter to Heritage Families

Dear Families,
I pray this letter finds you in good health. I know this is a difficult time for many, especially our residents. Please know that we will continue to pray, give comfort, love, and create purpose for those we serve every day and love.

We are taking every necessary precaution possible as we fight this pandemic. We will continue to implement safety measures, innovative activities, and proactive measures to ensure we do the best we can for your loved ones.

While we are experiencing our first outbreak in Chautauqua County, we remain steadfast in our dedication, the proactive measures we put into place, and our commitment to those we serve and employ. We serve over 500 residents and employ more than 800 compassionate individuals in Chautauqua County, and currently, only 5 percent of staff and 15 percent of our residents have tested positive.

We are blessed beyond measure that our prayers were heard, and that our residents and employees were among the first to be able to receive the vaccine as it was made available. For the first time in almost a year, our most vulnerable population and skilled nursing staff have been able to make an individual choice in how they will fight COVID-19. We are so thankful our local, state, and federal agencies recognized this need. We are excited that, already, almost 70 percent of residents and more than 30 percent of our staff in Chautauqua County have chosen to receive the vaccine, with additional clinics scheduled so more members of our Heritage family may continue on the same path.

After almost a year of keeping this virus out of our homes, we are greatly saddened that, as we finally see light with the recent vaccinations, we experienced an outbreak. Your family is our family. It’s not just words on paper—it’s our mission. We live in the same communities, we grieve with you, and continue to pray earnestly for our residents, the protection of our staff, and our country.

I continue to pray and ask you to come alongside of us in prayer for all of our staff and residents. I also ask you to thank any local staff who work for us. They are my heroes, and have worked tirelessly to step in and fill the gap in service throughout the past year. These heroes are tired, but soldier on each and every day. We will never repay the debt we owe to those who serve the generation that raised us all.

Together, we will come out stronger on the other side. But we must rally and encourage each other to finish well.

Keeping you in my prayers,
Lisa

COVID-19 Update

Heritage President and CEO, Lisa Haglund, confirmed today that The Green and The Village, Heritage senior living communities located in Chautauqua County, NY, have seen a recent increase in COVID-19 positive tests.

Haglund stated, “After we were notified of a noticeable increase in positive COVID-19 test results, we worked to immediately begin precautionary increased testing beyond required New York State mandates. The testing allows us to quickly identify, and proactively respond, to additional COVID-19 positive staff and residents. At this time 1% of our skilled nursing staff and 3% of our skilled nursing residents in Chautauqua County have tested positive. Our staff who tested positive are currently in quarantine, and will not return to work until further notice. All of our resident families have been notified. In accordance with HIPPA requirements, no further details will be released.”

Haglund shared that in response to the increased number of COVID-19 positive tests, Heritage has elected to temporarily cease admissions at The Village in Gerry, NY and The Green in Greenhurst, NY effective January 9 (The Green) and January 8 (The Village), as they work to maintain a safe environment for both residents and staff.

Haglund continued, “At Heritage, the health and safety of both our residents and staff is of the utmost importance, and we are taking action to reduce the risk of exposure for all. The steps we have implemented are directly tied to the recommendations and guidelines of the CDC and state, local, and federal regulations, and we will adjust these steps if those recommendations change. We have restricted all outside visitation as mandated by New York State as we battle COVID-19 in our community. In addition, our COVID-19 positive residents are cared for in a dedicated unit by specially assigned staff who have no interaction with any other residents or staff. We continue to screen all residents and staff daily, and employees are tested weekly throughout our skilled nursing communities, as mandated by the state of New York. In accordance with the recently updated NYS mandate, all skilled nursing community staff will be tested twice weekly beginning January 14, 2021. All potentially impacted areas have been thoroughly cleaned, and enhanced PPE is being used as needed in our communities. We understand the frustration these practices present for our residents and loved ones. We are doing everything that we can to care for our residents during this unprecedented pandemic. We also are continuing to offer window, Zoom, and Facetime visits so our families are still able to connect. We ask everyone for their continued prayers and support for Heritage during this difficult time.”

“We believe our incredible team of caregivers is well equipped, trained, and ready to support our residents as we face increased COVID-19 cases in our community. The work our employees do each day is essential, but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have worked tirelessly. During this difficult, and often stressful time, they and their families have sacrificed so that our residents can continue to receive the same compassionate care Heritage has always been known for. We recognize the work they are doing and our executive team at Heritage continues to work diligently to provide generous hazard pay for those working in the COVID-19 unit, free meals for our employees and their families, and counseling and pastoral services for those who desire them. We can never thank them enough for the heroic jobs they are performing as they care for our most vulnerable population, our seniors. We are both blessed and honored to be in their presence each day,” she said.

Haglund added that all residents and staff at all Heritage skilled nursing communities were also given the option to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with approximately 80% of all residents and 25% of all staff already receiving their first dose. “We are blessed beyond measure that our prayers have been heard, and that our residents and healthcare heroes in our skilled nursing communities were among the first to be given the option to receive the vaccine. While we remain respectful of the right to choose vaccination, for the first time in almost a year, our most vulnerable population and skilled nursing staff have an individual choice in how they will fight COVID-19, and we are so appreciative of our local, state, and federal agencies for recognizing this need. We remain hopeful that the vaccine will provide additional protection to those who have chosen to receive it as we continue to battle the pandemic.”

Haglund concluded by addressing the challenges for seniors who call Heritage home during the pandemic. Amidst the unprecedented events and regulations of COVID-19, residents and staff have found creative and unique ways to remain engaged and a part of their community. “The seniors that we serve deserve the very best from us, and our Heritage teams, from chaplaincy to activities and everyone in between, are committed to using love, imagination, innovation, and faith to find ways to encourage and provide hope in the midst of darkness, and we will continue to do so as we work to keep our residents safe and promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living,” she said.

2020 Year End Letter

Dear Friends of Heritage,

As 2020 draws to a close, we wanted to reach out to you, our residents and families, and thank you for your understanding, support, and most of all, your prayers, during this challenging year. You and your loved ones deserve the very best from us during this difficult time, and our Heritage teams, from chaplaincy to activities and everyone in between, are committed to using love, imagination, innovation, and faith to find ways to encourage and provide hope in the midst of this pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many time-honored traditions and heart-warming gatherings to change drastically this season. As we face those challenges, our Heritage communities, nationwide, have been determined to make the Christmas holiday season extra special.

Our teams are working tirelessly each day to “Bring the Joy” as we create innovative ways for our residents to enjoy meaningful moments, and special memories. In November, we launched a free eCard program to allow family members, friends, and the community to send free cards to their loved ones electronically throughout the year. From our online shoebox Thanksgiving Day Parade, to socially distanced hallway sing-a-longs, community car parades, and recorded holiday performances from area groups televised in our communities, our “Bring the Joy” initiative has helped our residents, staff, and community members to still enjoy traditional activities during a difficult time.

We are working daily to keep our residents safe, loved, and well cared for. We continue to monitor staff daily, and enhanced personal protective equipment is being used as needed in all of our communities to limit transmission of the virus. With the news of an upcoming vaccine for COVID-19, we know you may have many questions. Heritage is working with CVS, Omnicare, and Walgreens to distribute the vaccine to any residents who wish to receive it. We understand that choosing to receive the vaccine is a personal choice, and recently provided all of our residents and families with information to help make that decision. In the upcoming days and weeks community staff will be contacting you and your loved ones to discuss the vaccine, timing and availability further.

Our COVID-19 response team continues to be committed to acting in the best interest of all Heritage residents and staff, monitoring and implementing the constantly changing guidelines and protocols of local, state, and federal authorities. We also continue to advocate with our elected officials for a more reasonable and compassionate approach to visitation. You can find more information on ways you can get involved by visiting our Advocacy page here.

We understand how difficult this pandemic has been for both you and your loved ones, and thank you again for your patience and understanding. We look to the new year with prayerful hope, and continue to seek God’s wisdom. We pray for His supernatural protection, as we work to keep each resident safe, and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living during these unprecedented times.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Lisa Haglund
President and CEO

COVID-19 Vaccine Statement

Dear Friends of Heritage,

The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of our nation’s greatest challenges in modern history. For more than nine months, residents of Heritage and senior living communities nationwide, have lived apart from those they love and have been unable to visit each other face-to-face, or experience the warm embrace of a loving hug from a family member. Heritage employees have put their own health at risk daily and have worked tirelessly using love, imagination, innovation, and faith to find ways to encourage and provide hope in the midst of this pandemic while caring for our greatest generation, our seniors.

For months, we have asked you to join us in prayer for an end to the pandemic that has disrupted life in so many ways. As an organization, we are grateful the newly released COVID-19 vaccines are now placing the world’s attention and priority on our most affected populations, our seniors and front-line healthcare workers.

We are blessed beyond measure that our prayers have been heard, and that our seniors and healthcare heroes in our skilled nursing communities will be among the first to be given the option to receive the vaccine. While we remain respectful of the right to choose vaccination, for the first time in almost a year, our most vulnerable population will have an individual choice in how they will fight COVID-19, and we are so appreciative of our local, state, and federal agencies for recognizing this need.

Our communities have partnered with CVS, Omnicare, and Walgreens to distribute the vaccine to staff and residents who wish to receive it, and will be offering multiple clinics. We understand that some people may be concerned about getting vaccinated. The CDC has stated that while these vaccines are being developed as quickly as possible, routine processes and procedures remain in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized or approved for use.

We understand that receiving the vaccine is a personal choice each person must decide upon. Acknowledging that many have concerns and questions, Heritage encourages all residents, their families, and staff to educate themselves on the potential benefits and risks of receiving the vaccine in order to determine which option is right for them. Click here find a variety of resources from the CDC to share with your loved ones as you make your decisions. We encourage you to reach out to your healthcare provider with any questions you may have. We will also continue to communicate with you and your loved ones as we receive any information on vaccination options and availability for our assisted living and independent living staff and residents.

We continue to seek God’s wisdom and pray for His supernatural protection for those whom He has entrusted to our care, as we seek to keep each resident safe, and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living in these difficult times.

Sincerely,
Lisa Haglund
President and CEO

Skilled Nursing Update

Dear Friends of Heritage,

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE) has been one of our nation’s greatest challenges and has especially taken a toll on the nation’s nursing home residents. Heritage Ministries is committed to protecting the health and safety of our nursing home residents at all times and especially during the challenges presented by the spread of COVID-19. We understand the emotional impact that separation from loved ones has caused.

We also know that some residents may want to leave the nursing home temporarily to visit family and friends for the holidays or other outings. While Heritage Ministries supports family engagement and a resident’s right to leave the nursing home, everyone needs to work together to take extra precautions to help reduce the spread of COVID19, which can pose an elevated danger to the health of nursing home residents. Therefore, Heritage Ministries recommends against residents leaving the nursing home during this PHE. Leaving the nursing home could increase a resident’s risk for exposure to COVID-19. The risk may be further increased by factors such as a resident’s health status, the spread of COVID-19 in the community (e.g., cases or positivity rate), or attendance at large gatherings. We encourage residents to discuss these and other risks with their families and nursing home staff. Should a resident ultimately choose to leave the nursing home, Heritage Ministries is providing the following recommendations and requirements:

Per NYS Department of Health:

  • Residents who leave the facility will not be permitted to return until they present a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result within the preceding 24 hours.
  • Residents who leave the facility will be required , with their responsible party, to attest in writing that they:
    o Are aware of the risks involved with taking the resident out of the facility;
    o Will follow masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene practices pursuant to CDC and DOH directives;
    o Will notify the facility if the resident becomes ill within one week of leaving the facility;
    o Will notify the facility if anyone with whom the resident socialized tests positive for COVID-19 or influenza or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza within 14 days of the resident’s return to the facility;
    o Will communicate with the facility about a return date for the resident to the facility in accordance with the facility’s policy; and
    o Will quarantine or minimize contact (or assist the resident to do so) to the extent safely possible prior to return to a nursing home.

Heritage Ministries is making the following recommendations:

  • Limit close contact (maintain physical distancing of six feet or more),
  • Keep gatherings as small as possible, and use technology to engage with others remotely;
  • Wear facemasks or cloth face covering at all times (including in cars, homes, restaurants, etc.);
  • Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items;
  • Keep safe around food and drinks.
  • Avoid communal serving utensils, passing of food, potluck or buffet style food service, and instead opt for individually prepared plates by a single server;
  • Perform hand hygiene often (e.g., wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer);
  • Avoid large gatherings, crowded areas, and high-risk activities such as singing;
  • For those attending a gathering, avoid contact with individuals outside of their household for 14 days prior to the gathering;
  • Ask anyone who has signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or has been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19, to not attend the gathering;
  • If possible, conduct gatherings outdoors. Indoor gatherings should have good ventilation, open windows and doors if possible;
  • Verbally greet others instead of shaking hands or giving hugs. Think ahead about how you will manage to prevent physical interactions with loved ones of different ages such as young children; and
  • Check local conditions and state requirements for precautions and restrictions, including positivity rates and quarantine requirements, before crossing state lines.

When residents return to the nursing home:

  • Residents who leave the facility will be cohorted into an unknown COVID status area and placed on transmission-based precautions. This may mean that the resident will be unable to return to their original room.
  • Residents will be screened and monitored for symptoms every shift.
  • Residents will not be eligible to receive outdoor or in-person visits for 14 days.
  • Residents will not be eligible to receive beauty shop services for 14 days.
  • Residents will be tested for COVID-19 at least three times during the 14-day quarantine period at the facility, including on the first day (upon return) and the last day that a resident must be quarantined.
  • Heritage Ministries requests that all persons who had contact with a resident while outside of the facility monitor their symptoms and report such symptoms to the facility.

Our COVID-19 response team is committed to acting in the best interest of all residents and staff. This group continues to monitor and implement the ever-changing guidelines and protocols of the CDC, as well as local, state, and federal authorities. We understand how difficult this pandemic has been for both you and your loved ones, and thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, and support you have offered during this uncertain time.

We continue to seek God’s wisdom and pray for His supernatural protection for those whom He has entrusted to our care, as we seek to keep each resident safe, and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living in these difficult times.

Jeremy Rutter
Chief Clinical Officer
Heritage Ministries

Assisted Living Update

Dear Friends of Heritage,

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE) has been one of our nation’s greatest challenges and has especially taken a toll on the nation’s Senior Housing community residents. Heritage Ministries is committed to protecting the health and safety of our residents at all times and especially during the challenges presented by the spread of COVID-19. We understand the emotional impact that separation from loved ones has caused.

We also know that some residents may want to leave the community temporarily to visit family and friends for the holidays or other outings. While Heritage Ministries supports family engagement and a resident’s right to leave the community, everyone needs to work together to take extra precautions to help reduce the spread of COVID19, which can pose an elevated danger to the health of our residents. Therefore, Heritage Ministries recommends against residents leaving the community during this PHE. Leaving the community could increase a resident’s risk for exposure to COVID-19. The risk may be further increased by factors such as a resident’s health status, the spread of COVID-19 in the community (e.g., cases or positivity rate), or attendance at large gatherings. We encourage residents to discuss these and other risks with their families and community staff. Should a resident ultimately choose to leave the community, Heritage Ministries is providing the following recommendations and requirements.

Per NYS Department of Health:

  • Residents who leave the facility will not be permitted to return until they present a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result within the preceding 24 hours.
  • Residents who leave the facility will be required , with their responsible party, to attest in writing that they:
    o Are aware of the risks involved with taking the resident out of the facility;
    o Will follow masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene practices pursuant to CDC and DOH directives;
    o Will notify the facility if the resident becomes ill within one week of leaving the facility;
    o Will notify the facility if anyone with whom the resident socialized tests positive for COVID-19 or influenza or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza within 14 days of the resident’s return to the facility;
    o Will communicate with the facility about a return date for the resident to the facility in accordance with the facility’s policy; and
    o Will quarantine or minimize contact (or assist the resident to do so) to the extent safely possible prior to return to an assisted living facility.

Heritage Ministries is making the following recommendations:

  • Limit close contact (maintain physical distancing of six feet or more),
  • Keep gatherings as small as possible, and use technology to engage with others remotely;
  • Wear facemasks or cloth face covering at all times (including in cars, homes, restaurants, etc.);
  • Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items;
  • Keep safe around food and drinks.
  • Avoid communal serving utensils, passing of food, potluck or buffet style food service, and instead opt for individually prepared plates by a single server;
  • Perform hand hygiene often (e.g., wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer);
  • Avoid large gatherings, crowded areas, and high-risk activities such as singing;
  • For those attending a gathering, avoid contact with individuals outside of their household for 14 days prior to the gathering;
  • Ask anyone who has signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or has been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19, to not attend the gathering;
  • If possible, conduct gatherings outdoors. Indoor gatherings should have good ventilation, open windows and doors if possible;
  • Verbally greet others instead of shaking hands or giving hugs. Think ahead about how you will manage to prevent physical interactions with loved ones of different ages such as young children; and
  • Check local conditions and state requirements for precautions and restrictions, including positivity rates and quarantine requirements, before crossing state lines.

When residents return to the community:

  • Residents will be screened and monitored for symptoms every shift .
  • Residents will not be eligible to receive outdoor or in-person visits for 14 days.
  • Residents will not be eligible to receive beauty shop services for 14 days.
  • Residents will be tested for COVID-19 at least three times during the 14-day quarantine period at the facility, including on the first day (upon return) and the last day that a resident must be quarantined.
  • Heritage Ministries requests that all persons who had contact with a resident while outside of the facility monitor their symptoms and report such symptoms to the facility.

Our COVID-19 response team is committed to acting in the best interest of all residents and staff. This group continues to monitor and implement the ever-changing guidelines and protocols of the CDC, as well as local, state, and federal authorities. We understand how difficult this pandemic has been for both you and your loved ones, and thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, and support you have offered during this uncertain time.

We continue to seek God’s wisdom and pray for His supernatural protection for those whom He has entrusted to our care, as we seek to keep each resident safe, and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living in these difficult times.

Jeremy Rutter
Chief Clinical Officer
Heritage Ministries

Skille Nursing Visitation Update

Dear Friends of Heritage,

As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide, the safety and health of our residents and staff continues to be of the utmost importance. Staff are monitored daily upon arrival for work and wear surgical masks and eye protection, such as face shields, to limit the transmission of COVID-19 from potential asymptomatic employees. Staff in our skilled nursing and rehabilitation and assisted living communities receive mandatory COVID-19 testing, as required by the state. We continue to regularly monitor residents for symptoms throughout the day.

We understand that our Heritage families are anxious to see their loved ones. Our staff has worked tirelessly to provide compassionate care and ensure that our residents remain safe, engaged, and loved, while working with families to provide window, Zoom, and Facetime visits during the mandated no visitation periods. While we are thankful for all our staff has done, we know that for many families, the longing to be face-to-face with their loved one has been one of the most difficult aspects for them during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are so excited to begin welcoming our families back “home” to Heritage.

The July 10 guidance from the New York State Department of Health allows limited visitation for eligible nursing homes and assisted living communities who meet all criteria required by the state. Attached, you will find a fact sheet which outlines the requirements and conditions of the limited visitation we are allowed to begin offering as those criteria are met. Please review this prior to visiting. You will notice that there are many changes to what you may have been used to in the past. We understand this may seem extensive, but these mandated requirements are designed to allow our residents and families to (finally) connect, while still protecting everyone from potential COVID-19 exposure. All visits will need to be prescheduled. Included in these precautions, masks must be worn by visitors at all times, and hugging, kissing, and other physical contact is not allowed under the current visitation policy. To limit any potential exposure, you are also unable at this time to exchange any type of items, including gifts or food. However, if you have a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary, or other event, we want to help you celebrate. Please let us know, and we would be more than happy to provide cupcakes or other treats from Heritage to help make your visit extra special for everyone. Due to the New York State Health Department requirements, all visitors will be required to display proof of negative COVID-19 test results within seven (7) days prior to visit.

At this time, our skilled nursing communities will begin visitation as listed in the dates below, with the understanding that this may change at any time due to regulations. Please contact your community today to schedule your visit. There are a limited number of slots each day, and they may fill quickly. We appreciate your patience and understanding as our staff works to help each family reconnect with their loved ones. For those communities who may have not yet met criteria, we will continue with non-contact visits, such as window visits, Zoom, and Facetime in these locations, and will continue to update you when eligibility requirements are met and we may begin scheduling visits.

  • The Park- October 21 (pending NYS Department of Health Approval)

We understand how difficult this separation is for you and your loved ones. Our compassionate staff continues to provide care, comfort, and love to each of our residents, and we thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, and support you have offered them during this uncertain time.

We continue to seek God’s wisdom and pray for His supernatural protection for those whom He has entrusted to our care, as we seek to keep each resident safe and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living in these difficult times.

Sincerely,
Lisa Haglund
President and CEO

——

If you need assistance in finding a COVID-19 testing location in Chautauqua County, click here.

——

Download our skilled nursing  visitation policies and other documents below:

Skille Nursing Visitation Updates

Dear Friends of Heritage,

As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide, the safety and health of our residents and staff continues to be of the utmost importance. Staff are monitored daily upon arrival for work and wear surgical masks and eye protection, such as face shields, to limit the transmission of COVID-19 from potential asymptomatic employees. Staff in our skilled nursing and rehabilitation and assisted living communities receive mandatory COVID-19 testing, as required by the state. We continue to regularly monitor residents for symptoms throughout the day.

We understand that our Heritage families are anxious to see their loved ones. Our staff has worked tirelessly to provide compassionate care and ensure that our residents remain safe, engaged, and loved, while working with families to provide window, Zoom, and Facetime visits during the mandated no visitation periods. While we are thankful for all our staff has done, we know that for many families, the longing to be face-to-face with their loved one has been one of the most difficult aspects for them during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are so excited to begin welcoming our families back “home” to Heritage.

The July 10 guidance from the New York State Department of Health allows limited visitation for eligible nursing homes and assisted living communities who meet all criteria required by the state. Attached, you will find a fact sheet which outlines the requirements and conditions of the limited visitation we are allowed to begin offering as those criteria are met. Please review this prior to visiting. You will notice that there are many changes to what you may have been used to in the past. We understand this may seem extensive, but these mandated requirements are designed to allow our residents and families to (finally) connect, while still protecting everyone from potential COVID-19 exposure. All visits will need to be prescheduled. Included in these precautions, masks must be worn by visitors at all times, and hugging, kissing, and other physical contact is not allowed under the current visitation policy. To limit any potential exposure, you are also unable at this time to exchange any type of items, including gifts or food. However, if you have a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary, or other event, we want to help you celebrate. Please let us know, and we would be more than happy to provide cupcakes or other treats from Heritage to help make your visit extra special for everyone.  Due to the New York State Health Department requirements, all visitors will be required to display proof of negative COVID-19 test results within seven (7) days prior to visit.

At this time, our skilled nursing communities will begin visitation as listed in the dates below, with the understanding that this may change at any time due to regulations. Please contact your community today to schedule your visit. There are a limited number of slots each day, and they may fill quickly. We appreciate your patience and understanding as our staff works to help each family reconnect with their loved ones. For those communities who may have not yet met criteria, we will continue with non-contact visits, such as window visits, Zoom, and Facetime in these locations, and will continue to update you when eligibility requirements are met and we may begin scheduling visits.

  • The Park – Date To Be Announced (pending NYS Department of Health Approval)
  • The Green – October 14 (pending NYS Department of Health Approval)
  • The Village – October 14 (pending NYS Department of Health Approval)

We understand how difficult this separation is for you and your loved ones. Our compassionate staff continues to provide care, comfort, and love to each of our residents, and we thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, and support you have offered them during this uncertain time.

We continue to seek God’s wisdom and pray for His supernatural protection for those whom He has entrusted to our care, as we seek to keep each resident safe and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living in these difficult times.

Sincerely,

Lisa Haglund
President and CEO

——

If you need assistance in finding a COVID-19 testing location in Chautauqua County, click here.

——

Download our skilled nursing  visitation policies and other documents below:

Visitation Updates for New York State 

We are excited to welcome visitors back to our skilled nursing communities in accordance with New York State guidelines. Due to New York State Health Department requirements all visitors will be required to display proof of negative COVID-19 test results within seven (7) days prior to visit.

We need your help to keep everyone safe during this transition, and ask that you follow all guidelines, listed below. We look forward to seeing you soon!

If you need assistance in finding a COVID-19 testing location in Chautauqua County, click here.

——

Download our posted visitation policies and other documents below:

Visitation Updates for New York State 

Dear Friends of Heritage,

As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide, the safety and health of our residents and staff continues to be of the utmost importance. Staff are monitored daily upon arrival for work and wear surgical masks and eye protection, such as face shields, to limit the transmission of COVID-19 from potential asymptomatic employees. Staff in our skilled nursing and rehabilitation and assisted living communities receive mandatory COVID-19 testing, as required by the state. We continue to regularly monitor residents for symptoms throughout the day.

We understand that our Heritage families are anxious to see their loved ones. Our staff has worked tirelessly to provide compassionate care and ensure that our residents remain safe, engaged, and loved, while working with families to provide window, Zoom, and Facetime visits during the mandated no visitation periods. While we are thankful for all our staff has done, we know that for many families, the longing to be face to face with their loved one has been one of the most difficult aspects for them during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are so excited to begin welcoming our families back “home” to Heritage.

The July 10 guidance from New York State Department of Health allows limited visitation for eligible nursing homes and assisted living communities who meet all criteria required by the state. Attached, you will find a fact sheet which outlines the requirements and conditions of the limited visitation we are allowed to begin offering as those criteria are met. Please review this prior to visiting. You will notice that there are many changes to what you may have been used to in the past. We understand this may seem extensive, but these mandated requirements are designed to allow our residents and families to (finally) connect, while still protecting everyone from potential COVID-19 exposure. All visits will need to be prescheduled. Included in these precautions, masks must be worn by visitors at all times, and hugging, kissing, and other physical contact is not allowed under the current visitation policy. To limit any potential exposure, you are also unable at this time to exchange any type of items including gifts or food. However, if you have a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary, or other event, we want to help you celebrate. Please let us know, and we would be more than happy to provide cupcakes or other treats from Heritage to help make your visit extra special for everyone.

At this time, our assisted living communities at Bergquist Memorial and Orchard Grove, and our enriched housing community at The Lodge at Ives Hill have met all eligibility requirements, and will begin visitation as listed in the dates below, with the understanding that this may change at any time due to regulations. Please contact your community today to schedule your visit. There are a limited number of slots each day, and they may fill quickly. We appreciate your patience and understanding as our staff works to help each family reconnect with their loved ones.

  • Bergquist – Currently Open to Limited Outdoor Visitation
  • Orchard Grove – August 19, 2020
  • The Lodge at Ives Hill – August 21, 2020

Our skilled nursing communities at The Park, The Village, and The Green are preparing for visitation, as noted below. For those communities who may not yet met criteria, we will continue with non-contact visits, such as window visits, zoom, and facetime in these locations, and will continue to update you when eligibility requirements are met and we may begin scheduling visits.

  • The Park – August 17, 2020
  • The Green – August 17, 2020 (pending NYS Department of Health Approval)
  • The Village – Date to be announced

We understand how difficult this separation is for you and your loved ones. Our compassionate staff continues to provide care, comfort, and love to each of our residents, and we thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, and support you have offered them during this uncertain time.

We continue to seek God’s wisdom and pray for His supernatural protection for those whom He has entrusted to our care, as we seek to keep each resident safe and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living in these difficult times.

Sincerely,
Lisa Haglund
President and CEO

——

Download our posted visitation policies and other documents below:

Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living Visitation Policy Update

PLEASE NOTE: As of 7/21/2020 Orchard Grove does NOT meet the eligibility criteria for assisted living visitation.

As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide, the safety and health of our residents and staff continues to be of the utmost importance. Staff are monitored daily upon arrival for work and wear surgical masks and eye protection, such as face shields, to limit the transmission of COVID-19 from potential asymptomatic employees. Staff in our skilled nursing and rehabilitation and assisted living communities receive mandatory COVID-19 testing, as required by the state. We continue to regularly monitor residents for symptoms throughout the day.

We understand that our Heritage families are anxious to see their loved ones. Our staff has worked tirelessly to provide compassionate care and ensure that our residents remain safe, engaged, and loved, while working with families to provide window, Zoom, and Facetime visits during the mandated no visitation periods. While we are thankful for all our staff has done, we know that for many families, the longing to be face to face with their loved one has been one of the most difficult aspects for them during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are so excited to begin welcoming our families back “home” to Heritage.

The July 10 guidance from New York State Department of Health allows limited visitation for eligible nursing homes and assisted living communities who meet all criteria required by the state. Attached, you will find a fact sheet which outlines the requirements and conditions of the limited visitation we are allowed to begin offering as those criteria are met. Please review this prior to visiting. You will notice that there are many changes to what you may have been used to in the past. We understand this may seem extensive, but these mandated requirements are designed to allow our residents and families to (finally) connect, while still protecting everyone from potential COVID-19 exposure. All visits will need to be prescheduled. Included in these precautions, masks must be worn by visitors at all times, and hugging, kissing, and other physical contact is not allowed under the current visitation policy. To limit any potential exposure, you are also unable at this time to exchange any type of items including gifts or food. However, if you have a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary, or other event, we want to help you celebrate. Please let us know, and we would be more than happy to provide cupcakes or other treats from Heritage to help make your visit extra special for everyone.

At this time, our assisted living communities at Bergquist Memorial and Orchard Grove, and our enriched housing community at The Lodge at Ives Hill have met all eligibility requirements, and are beginning to take reservations for visitors. Please contact your community today to schedule your visit. There are a limited number of slots each day, and they may fill quickly. We appreciate your patience and understanding as our staff works to help each family reconnect with their loved ones.

Our skilled nursing communities at The Park, The Village, and The Green are not currently eligible for in-person visitation. We will continue with non-contact visits, such as window visits, zoom, and facetime in these locations, and will continue to update you when eligibility requirements are met and we may begin scheduling visits.

We understand how difficult this separation is for you and your loved ones. Our compassionate staff continues to provide care, comfort, and love to each of our residents, and we thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, and support you have offered them during this uncertain time.

We continue to seek God’s wisdom and pray for His supernatural protection for those whom He has entrusted to our care, as we seek to keep each resident safe and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living in these difficult times.

Sincerely,
Jeremy Rutter
Chief Clinical Officer

——

Download our posted visitation policies and other documents below:

COVID-19 Update

Dear Friends of Heritage,

As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide, the safety and health of our residents and staff continues to be of the utmost importance. It has now been over three months since our skilled nursing and assisted living facilities have been closed to visitors. Staff continue to be monitored daily upon arrival for work and wear surgical masks and eye protection, such as face shields, to limit the transmission of COVID-19 from potential asymptomatic employees. Staff in our skilled nursing and rehabilitation and assisted living communities are nowreceiving mandatory COVID-19testing, as required by the state. We continue to regularly monitor residents for symptoms throughout the day.

Our COVID-19 response team is committed to acting in the best interest of all residents and staff. This group continues to monitor and implement the ever-changing guidelines and protocols of the CDC, as well as local, state, and federal authorities, as phases of reopening begin to emerge. We understand that many of you have expressed concern regarding visitation and seeing your loved one. The current reopening phases in many areas where our communities are located allow for small group gatherings. However, skilled nursing and rehabilitation and assisted living communities are held to a different level of regulation. Our teams continue to provide for both the physical and emotional care of those we serve during these difficult times through various resident engagement activities, to help all residents stay active and engaged. Phone calls, video chats, and window visits continue to be arranged through the social work and activities departments. We are happy to assist in scheduling these visits; however, we do request they be limited to one per day so that we can assure all residents have equal opportunity.

At this time, the following guidelines have been implemented at all of our skilled nursing and assisted living communities:

  • No group activities.
  • No congregate dining.
  • Residents who need assistance with eating can be assisted in the dining spaces with no more than two residents per table at least six feet apart.
  • No visitors, with the exception of compassionate end of life. Please contact your community directly for information.
  • Residents are required to wear a mask while outside of their room (as tolerated).
  • Residents are allowed to go outside if they maintain social distancing and wear a mask (as tolerated).
  • Residents are allowed to leave the facility for essential medical appointments, and must wear a mask.
  • Residents are not allowed to leave the facility for non-essential reasons (visitation, beauty shop, dining, etc). Exceptions can be made for extenuating circumstances, to be approved by the Heritage COVID-19 team.
  • No beautician services in facility.

At this time, the following guidelines have been implemented at all of our Assisted Living Communities:

  • No group activities
  • No congregate dining
  • No visitors with the exception of compassionate EOL (this includes residents visiting other resident’s rooms)
  • Residents required to wear a mask while outside of their room (as tolerated)
  • Residents are allowed to go outside if they maintain social distancing and wear a mask (as tolerated)
  • Residents are allowed to leave facility for essential medical appointments. Must wear a mask.
  • Residents are strongly encouraged not to leave facility for non-essential reasons (visitation, beauty shop, dining, etc).
  • Residents are required to quarantine if exposed to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID. Quarantine length will be determined by State requirements.
  • No beautician services in facility.

At this time, following additional guidelines apply to Independent Living residents in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Washington only:

  • No group activities.
  • No congregate dining.
  • Residents required to wear a mask while outside of their room (as tolerated).
  • Limit of one visitor per resident per day.
  • Visitor must be masked and screened.
  • Tours allowed, participants must be masked and screened.
  • Moving help limited to two, must be masked and screened.
  • Residents can go out of the facility as allowed by state reopening phases. Must wear a mask.
  • Residents must self-monitor for symptoms. Report any symptoms to administrator.
  • No beautician services in facility.

The following additional guidelines apply to Independent Living Residents in New York State only (*unless services are offered in a building that houses assisted living residents*).

  • Residents are required to wear a mask while outside of their room (as tolerated).
  • Limit of one visitor per resident per day.
  • Visitor must be masked and screened.
  • Tours allowed, participants must be masked and screened.
  • Moving help limited to two, must be masked and screened.
  • Residents can go out of the facility as allowed by state reopening phases. Must wear a mask.
  • Residents must self-monitor for symptoms. Report any symptoms to the administrator.
  • Beautician services are allowed in the facility.
  • Limited to one resident in the beauty shop at a time.
  • Both the resident and beautician must wear a mask.
  • The entire beauty shop will be disinfected between residents.
  • Group activities are allowed.
  • All participants must maintain a six foot distance from each other and wear a mask as tolerated.
  • Gatherings are limited to 25% of maximum room occupancy, or 25 people, (including residents, staff, and guests) whichever is less.
  • Congregate dining is now allowed (diners must maintain a social distance of six feet)
  • Limited to 25% of maximum room occupancy, or 25 people, (including residents, staff, and guests) whichever is less.

Additionally, in response to increased rates of COVID-19 transmission in certain states, and to protect New York’s successful containment of COVID-19, the state has joined with New Jersey and Connecticut in jointly issuing a travel advisory for any individual returning from travel to states that have a significant degree of community-wide spread of COVID-19. Based upon Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 205, issued June 25, 2020, the following states meet the criteria for required 14-day quarantine. This order will apply to anyone interacting with any of our New York state communities.

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

As more details are made available to us by state and local governments regarding time frames for the reopening of visitation in our communities, we assure you, we will immediately reach out to you with any information. We understand how difficult this separation is for you and your loved ones. Our compassionate staff continues to provide care, comfort, and love to each of our residents, and we thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, and support you have offered them during this uncertain time.

We continue to seek God’s wisdom and pray for His supernatural protection for those whom He has entrusted to our care, as we seek to keep each resident safe and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living in these difficult times.

Sincerely,

Lisa Haglund
President and CEO

COVID-19 Update

Dear Friends of Heritage,

As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide, the safety and health of our residents and staff continues to be of the utmost importance. It has now been over three months since our skilled nursing and assisted living facilities have been closed to visitors. Staff continue to be monitored daily upon arrival for work and wear surgical masks and eye protection, such as face shields, to limit the transmission of COVID-19 from potential asymptomatic employees. Staff in our skilled nursing and rehabilitation and assisted living communities are nowreceiving mandatory COVID-19testing, as required by the state. We continue to regularly monitor residents for symptoms throughout the day.

Our COVID-19 response team is committed to acting in the best interest of all residents and staff. This group continues to monitor and implement the ever-changing guidelines and protocols of the CDC, as well as local, state, and federal authorities, as phases of reopening begin to emerge. We understand that many of you have expressed concern regarding visitation and seeing your loved one. The current reopening phases in many areas where our communities are located allow for small group gatherings. However, skilled nursing and rehabilitation and assisted living communities are held to a different level of regulation. Our teams continue to provide for both the physical and emotional care of those we serve during these difficult times through various resident engagement activities, to help all residents stay active and engaged. Phone calls, video chats, and window visits continue to be arranged through the social work and activities departments. We are happy to assist in scheduling these visits; however, we do request they be limited to one per day so that we can assure all residents have equal opportunity.

At this time, the following guidelines have been implemented at all of our skilled nursing and assisted living communities:

Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Communities:

  • No group activities.
  • No congregate dining.
  • Residents who need assistance with eating can be assisted in dining spaces with no more than two residents per table, at least six feet apart.
  • No visitors, with the exception of compassionate end of life. Please contact your community directly for information.
  • Residents are required to wear a mask while outside of their room (as tolerated).
  • Residents are allowed to go outside if they maintain social distancing and wear a mask (as tolerated).
  • Residents are allowed to leave facility for essential medical appointments, and must wear a mask.
  • Residents are not allowed to leave the facility for non-essential reasons (visitation, beauty shop, dining, etc). Exceptions can be made for extenuating circumstances, to be approved by the Heritage COVID-19 team.
  • No beautician services in facility.

Assisted Living Communities:

  • No group activities.
  • No congregate dining.
  • No visitors, with the exception of compassionate end of life. Please contact your community directly for information.
  • Residents required to wear a mask while outside of their room (as tolerated).
  • Residents are allowed to go outside if they maintain social distancing and wear a mask (as tolerated).
  • Residents are allowed to leave the facility for essential medical appointments, and must wear a mask.
  • Residents are strongly encouraged not to leave the facility for non-essential reasons (visitation, beauty shop, dining, etc).
  • No beautician services in facility.

The following additional guidelines apply to independent living residents only:

  • No group activities.
  • No congregate dining.
  • Residents are required to wear a mask while outside of their room (as tolerated).
  • Limit of one visitor per resident per day.
  • Visitor must be masked and screened.
  • Tours allowed, participants must be masked and screened.
  • Moving help limited to two, must be masked and screened.
  • Residents can go out of the facility as allowed by state reopening phases. Must wear a mask.
  • Residents must self-monitor for symptoms. Report any symptoms to administrator.
  • No beautician services in facility.

As more details are made available to us by state and local governments regarding time frames for the reopening of visitation in our communities, we assure you, we will immediately reach out to you with any information. We understand how difficult this separation is for you and your loved ones. Our compassionate staff continue to provide care, comfort, and love to each of our residents, and we thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, and support you have offered them during this uncertain time.

We continue to seek God’s wisdom and pray for His supernatural protection for those whom He has entrusted to our care, as we seek to keep each resident safe and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living in these difficult times.

Sincerely,

Lisa Haglund
President and CEO

Letter to Residents, Families, and Community Members

Dear Friends of Heritage,

It has now been three months since our facilities have been closed to visitors. Staff are being monitored daily upon arrival for work and have been wearing surgical masks and eye protection to limit the transmission of COVID-19 from potential asymptomatic employees. In several states, our employees, as well as our residents, are being tested for COVID-19. Our New York state employees are now being tested once a week per state mandate.

Our COVID-19 task force continues to monitor and implement the ever-changing guidelines and protocols of the various agencies that have oversight of our facilities. While many states are currently in a phased reopening plan, our guidance comes from the CDC primarily, with other state and federal guidelines. For our nursing homes and assisted living communities, the guidance to reopen will come through the state Department of Health as directed by the CDC. For our independent living communities, we are following CDC guidance for retirement communities. This guidance differs from the state specific guidance that apply to general businesses. As such, what you are hearing in the news about reopening of services may not apply to you and your loved one in a certain level of care.

In accordance with these guidelines, we are still unable to allow for group activities, congregate dining, and visitation. Our teams continue to provide for both the physical and emotional care of those we serve. Phone calls, video chats, and window visits are being arranged through the social work and activities departments. We are happy to assist in scheduling these visits; however, we do request they be limited to one per day so that we can assure all residents have equal opportunity.

We continue to seek God’s wisdom and pray for His supernatural protecting for those whom He has entrusted to our care, as we seek to keep them safe and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living in these difficult times.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Rutter
Chief Clinical Officer
Heritage Ministries

Current Visitation Policies

At this time, the following guidelines have been implemented at all of our communities:

  • Visitation at all skilled nursing and rehabilitation and assisted living communities continue to be suspended until further notice.
  • Common areas, including handrails and door knobs, are disinfected frequently.
  • Masks are being worn in accordance with local, state, and federal guidelines at each location.
  • Social distancing must be observed at all times.
  • All pet visits continue to be suspended.

The following additional guidelines apply to independent living residents only:

  • Independent living residents are to follow the phases of reopening as directed by state and local governments in their community. We encourage these residents to continue to follow the best practices of social distancing, and to wear a mask when unable to social distance.
  • Independent living residents may not enter skilled nursing and rehabilitation or assisted living communities due to continued visitor restriction.

Download letter to independent living residents
Download letter to assisted living and skilled nursing families

Heritage to Reopen Admissions

Jeremy Rutter, Heritage Chief Clinical Officer, announced today that Heritage skilled nursing and rehabilitation communities in Chautauqua County will begin to admit residents on May 27, 2020. Previously, Heritage had temporarily ceased all admissions effective Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in response to the New York State mandate to test all nursing home employees for COVID-19. This admission halt affected three Heritage communities: The Village in Gerry, NY, The Park in Jamestown, NY, and The Green in Greenhurst, NY.

“We were notified on Tuesday, May 26, of the results of our first round of COVID-19 employee tests in our Chautauqua County skilled nursing and rehabilitation communities,” he stated. “The 100% negative employee test rate is a direct reflection of the hard work, dedication, and adherence to COVID-19 guidelines by all of our Heritage staff members. We have communicated with our local hospital, and all our referring partners, that we will begin taking admissions this Wednesday, May 27, at all of our Chautauqua County skilled nursing and rehabilitation communities.”

Heritage Ministries President and CEO, Lisa Haglund, shared, “The health and safety of our staff and residents are of the utmost importance. As we were directed to move into mandated testing for all employees by Governor Cuomo’s office, we needed to determine how we could implement that efficiently, while complying with all regulations, and preventing any impact to resident care. Our COVID-19 response team is committed to acting in the best interest of all staff and residents. The temporary admissions halt allowed us to determine if our staffing would be negatively impacted by test results. We needed to be able to ensure that our residents would continue to receive the same compassionate care that is standard at Heritage. The 100% negative results of our COVID-19 employee tests support our decision to reopen our skilled nursing and rehabilitation communities to new admissions. We commend all of our healthcare heroes for their roles in helping to keep our residents safe and healthy as we continue to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living.”

Letter to Friends of Heritage

I reach out today to share many updates with you.

On May 11, 2020, I was confirmed to lead as permanent President and CEO for Heritage and its affiliates. I am honored and blessed to have been chosen to lead Heritage through this unprecedented time, and look forward to working with each member of our staff as we continue to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living to all those entrusted to our care.

I began my career with Northwest Bank, a ten billion dollar corporation, for over twenty years, prior to joining the Heritage organization, where I have most recently served as the Vice President of Marketing, Development, and Sales. I truly believe in giving back, and have been an active member of the community throughout the years, with involvement ranging from Chautauqua Leadership Network, PTA, St. Susan Center, Family Services, and the Bemus Point United Methodist Church. My husband, Jason, and I reside in Bemus Point, NY, along with our four children, Allison, Brennan, Madelynn, and Michael in Bemus Point. We are active members of the Bemus Point United Methodist Church.

Additionally, Jeremy Rutter, Heritage Vice President of Skilled Nursing Operations and Executive Director of Hearthstone Communities, a Heritage senior living community in Woodstock, IL, has been named Chief Clinical Officer of our organization. He previously served Heritage as the Administrator of Record at The Village in Gerry, NY and Administrator at The Park in Jamestown, NY, two Heritage rehab and skilled nursing communities.

It has now been over two months since our skilled nursing and assisted living facilities have been closed to visitors. Staff are being monitored daily upon arrival for work, continue to wear surgical masks, and are now wearing eye protection, such as face shields, to limit the transmission of COVID-19 from potential asymptomatic employees. We continue to regularly monitor residents for symptoms throughout day.

The health and safety of our staff and residents are of the utmost importance. As we have been directed to move into mandated testing for all employees by Governor Cuomo’s office, we needed to determine how we could implement that efficiently, while complying with all regulations, and preventing any impact to resident care. Our COVID-19 response team is committed to acting in the best interest of all staff and residents.

As a result, Heritage skilled nursing and rehabilitation communities in Chautauqua County temporarily ceased all admissions effective Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in response to the New York State mandate to test all nursing home employees for COVID-19. This temporary admission halt will affect The Village in Gerry, NY, The Park in Jamestown, NY, and The Green in Greenhurst, NY. We will not accept admissions into our skilled nursing communities until we have sufficient test results indicating that our staffing will not be negatively impacted by our compliance with the executive order.

Our COVID-19 task force continues to monitor and implement the ever-changing guidelines and protocols of the CDC as well as local, state, and federal authorities. At this time, the following guidelines have been implemented at all of our communities:

  • Visitation at all skilled nursing facilities, assisted living, and independent living communities are suspended until further notice.
  • Common areas, including handrails and door knobs, are disinfected frequently.
  • Masks are being worn in accordance with local, state, and federal guidelines at each location.
  • Social distancing must be observed at all times.
  • All pet visits continue to be suspended.
  • We continue to discourage any non-essential trips or errands for our independent living residents. We do have a grocery delivery system in place to protect our residents and staff from exposure. If you are interested in using this service, please contact your community directly.

Our teams continue to provide for both the physical and emotional care of those we serve during these difficult times through various resident engagement activities. Phone calls, video chats, and window visits are being arranged through the social work and activities departments. We are happy to assist in scheduling these visits; however, we do request they be limited to one per day so that we can assure all residents have equal opportunity.

In an effort to offer more expedient and transparent communication, we have implemented an auto call system, so all families can be notified immediately, in the event we have a resident with a confirmed positive COVID-19 test. We ask that you send your current email address to questions@heritage1886.org so we may also contact you via email, or call 1-833-623-0162 with any questions.

We continue to seek God’s wisdom and pray for His supernatural protection for those whom He has entrusted to our care, as we seek to keep them safe and to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living in these difficult times.

Sincerely,
Lisa Haglund
President and CEO

Temporary Halt to Skilled Nursing Admissions

Jeremy Rutter, Heritage Chief Clinical Officer, announced today that Heritage skilled nursing and rehabilitation communities in Chautauqua County will temporarily cease all admissions effective Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in response to the New York State mandate to test all nursing home employees for COVID-19. This temporary admission halt will affect The Village in Gerry, NY, The Park in Jamestown, NY, and The Green in Greenhurst, NY.

“Starting Tuesday, we will not be accepting admissions into our skilled nursing communities until we have sufficient test results indicating that our staffing will not be negatively impacted by our compliance with the executive order.” he stated.

Lisa Haglund, newly confirmed Heritage Ministries President and CEO, shared, “The health and safety of our staff and residents are of the utmost importance. As we have been directed to move into mandated testing for all employees by Governor Cuomo’s office, we needed to determine how we could comply with all regulations and prevent any impact to resident care. Our COVID-19 response team is committed to acting in the best interest of all staff and residents.”

Heritage Designs COVID-19 Testing Stations

As mandated testing of employees in long term care facilities has been ordered across New York State, two of Chautauqua’s largest providers of skilled nursing services, Heritage Ministries and Lutheran Jamestown, have begun working together to ensure employees and residents within both organizations remain safe throughout the new testing process. This includes a newly designed testing station created by the team at Heritage, with the help of a locally owned small business.

Lisa Haglund, newly confirmed Heritage Ministries President and CEO, shared, “The health and safety of our staff and residents are of the utmost importance. As we have been directed to move into mandated testing for all employees by Governor Cuomo’s office, we needed to determine how we could implement that efficiently, while complying with all regulations. We have to balance these changes with the actual realities of supply chain challenges, increased prices of personal protective equipment (PPE), the impact to staffing ratios, and preventing any impact to care.”

Haglund also expressed that she and Tom Holt, President and CEO of Lutheran Jamestown, share the same thoughts, and will be working together to continue providing a safe environment for the residents, staff, and families of each organization. “Tom and I have spoken at great length, and we are both committed to the continued support and protection of our staff and residents as we navigate through these new policies.” The collaboration efforts will include best practices for COVID-19 prevention, advocacy with state and federal officials, as well as other infrastructure needs, as it relates to testing of staff.

Randy Jackson, Heritage Vice President of Facilities Management, and his team, led by Glenn Williams, have been working with a local Chautauqua County business, D & S Glass, to meet these new testing needs. A mobile testing booth has been designed that will provide the ability to safely administer COVID-19 tests on-site while limiting exposure in both directions. D & S Glass will be providing materials for the project to allow Heritage to quickly implement the new testing process with their staff and residents after product testing.

Jackson explained that the booths will be adaptable to allow staff members to adjust to the height of each staff person or resident, accommodating for those who are unable to actively sit up or stand easily. The booths will feature a plexiglass wall with a small access panel for test administration. The wall will protect both residents and staff from exposure, and will also help preserve valuable, and sometimes difficult to obtain, personal protective equipment (PPE), which would normally have to be changed out after each test and potential exposure. Heritage is also developing a plan to effectively clean and disinfect each station after use with the help of their certified infection control nurse.

“I am thankful for our team and Michael LaTone at D & S Glass for working quickly to develop a solution to protect everyone.” Haglund went on to say, “It is this collaboration of local businesses that is so important now, as we all come together to protect our county and move forward.”

Haglund also discussed that in the same spirit of cooperation, Heritage will be sharing this design with Lutheran so they may also quickly implement in their senior living communities in Chautauqua County.

“At this difficult time in our industry, it is important that we work together to protect our most vulnerable population, our seniors. Working with our fellow senior living communities is essential in order to provide the absolute best care for all of our residents,” she stated.

Tom Holt shared, “Working together has never been more important. We need to protect our most vulnerable population: our seniors. It is the right thing to do and it is the thing we must do in order to provide the best care to those who have been entrusted to us. Kudos to Heritage and D & S Glass for the creative design. We look forward to implementing its use on our campus.”

Lutheran, located in Jamestown, New York, offers a continuum of care that supports an individual’s journey through life with compassion, dignity, and respect. Lutheran’s vision for the future is to be an innovative leader and first choice for employment, living, and care.

Homestead Stables COVID-19 Policy

Heritage has spent a lot of time communicating the steps we are taking to assure the safety and well-being of the residents and staff of our senior living communities. We have also taken steps to assure that Homestead Stables, which is classified as an essential business, is following appropriate protocol to curtail any spread of the virus.

New York State has issued guidance stating that owners of horses that are boarded should only be visiting the facility if they are directly responsible for an essential component of the care of their horse. Due to the requirement to cease providing lessons and various other services, Homestead stables has been forced to reduce the amount of staffing working to a level sufficient to provide only the bare minimum amount of care. This includes cleaning stalls and feeding.

Many horses boarded at Homestead Stables require additional care, especially as it relates to their need for daily exercise. With the reduction in staff and the elimination of lessons, horses that were regularly ridden for lessons are now reliant on their owners to lunge and/or ride their horses in order for them to have the physical exercise that is needed. Homestead Stables does have turnouts and pastures for exercise, but we do not currently have enough staff to assure that all horses can be taken outside without the assistance of their owners. The health and safety of our residents, staff, and boarders is our first priority, but we also have to assure that our horses receive the proper care and attention they deserve.

A strict schedule has been developed to assure that no more than three owners are on-site at any given time. All persons entering the barn are required to complete a screening form similar to the one used by our employees before they come to work in our senior communities. If there is any indication that they are symptomatic or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, they will be denied admission to the barn. Masks are available and their use is encouraged.

Additionally, there are never more than ten persons in the barn at a time, and a minimum of six feet of distance between persons is required at all times. Other than owners, Homestead Stables’ doors are locked to the public and the facility is under 24-hour video surveillance.

Homestead Stables did recently have a small group of its boarders volunteer to help unload a load of hay. This occurred at the separate hay storage facility, and appropriate social distancing was enforced throughout the work.

I also want to thank our Stable Manager, Heather Payne, and her daughter, for providing a unique life enrichment activity for The Village residents when they visited outside with their horse, Lucy. Residents not only enjoyed seeing Lucy through the windows, but it was such a nice day that some were able to go outside for a visit. Of course appropriate precautions were taken relative to distance and the wearing of masks.

Sincerely,
David Smeltzer
President and CEO

UPDATED 4/1/2020

COVID-19 Update

Dear Residents, Families, and Community Members,

We are grateful to report that as of this writing, none of our Heritage or Heritage affiliated communities have any positive cases of COVID-19. We continue to work diligently to ensure the health and safety of our residents and staff.

As mentioned in my last communication, residents of our skilled nursing facilities are being closely monitored for any signs or symptoms. We continue to check temperatures three times per day. The same is true in our assisted living communities with temperatures being taken twice daily. We continue to reach out to those who reside in our independent living communities to check on their health and have expanded our services to include meal delivery and grocery pick up.

The leadership teams of our communities have completed table top drills and each community currently has the necessary personal protective equipment in place for the safety of our staff, should we have a positive case. In the event of a positive case, each skilled nursing facility has a dedicated location for those individuals. Staff are aware of the procedures that will be followed to assure their safety and to avoid any potential spread throughout the facility.

I want to remind you that we are now going on 18 days since our communities essentially went into a quarantine scenario. All visitation was stopped and all congregate dining and large group activities were discontinued. Staff have been wearing surgical masks anytime they are working in direct care areas. All of these steps have been taken to avoid unknowingly introducing COVID-19 into our facilities.

In addition to the steps being taken to assure the health of your loved ones, our teams are working diligently to provide opportunities for life enrichment and connection with those under our care. Please feel free to contact the appropriate facility if you want to arrange a virtual visit. Additionally, in some of our communities, window visits may be possible.

We have been blessed to receive many donations from the community, and we know that many of you are praying for our residents and staff. Words cannot express how important your support is to our care teams! We continue to seek God’s supernatural protection for our residents, staff, and communities.

Sincerely,
David Smeltzer
Heritage President and CEO

UPDATED 3/20/2020

How Churches Can Help

We are walking through all kinds of changes impacting our communities in these days. One part of our local communities that could receive special care and ministry these days are our local skilled nursing facilities and retirement communities.

Here are a few ways your church could help:

  1. PRAYER: Pray for our residents. Many of them are in situations with ever-changing restrictions, with visitors banned and group activities extremely limited. Pray for encouragement. Pray for all of our workers in senior care facilities — that God would strengthen, encourage, and use them to be a blessing to others. Pray that chaplains and Christian workers would be able to share the love of Jesus with co-workers and residents. Pray for Lutheran, Tanglewood Manor, Magnolia (Frewsburg Rest Home), Absolut Care, Heritage Ministries, Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and many other facilities in our region.
  2. CARDS AND PHONE CALLS: If your church has a connection to someone in a nursing facility, call them. Check in on them. A “thinking of you” phone call goes a long way. Also, letters are a phenomenal source of encouragement. Perhaps your church could “sponsor a local facility.” Church members could write encouragement notes, even sharing about themselves and their family, like a pen pal introductory letter. These would be a welcome respite for many residents. A church could call the front desk or activities office at most facilities and make these connections.
  3. CHILDCARE: Many staff members in senior care also have to navigate school closings and determine how they will balance work and childcare. If people in your church have friends, neighbors, or family members who work in senior care/nursing, pleaseconsider how you might provide some childcare to them, if you are able to do so safely and responsibly. This is a ministry that multiplies in its impact. In providing childcare, you are allowing someone to have the time to continue to work and serve our seniors.

If you’d like to discuss these ideas further, need a starting point, or have other suggestions, please contact me. I look forward to how we can pray and serve together.

In Christ,
Larry Petry
Senior Chaplain, Heritage Ministries
(716) 490-5480
LPetry@heritage1886.org

UPDATED 3/19/2020

Letter for Skilled Nursing

Residents, Families, and Friends of Heritage,

I am glad to be able to reassure all of our residents, staff, families and friends at this time that all of our facilities still do not have any confirmed cases of Coronavirus. We have followed all of the guidelines put into place by local, state and federal departments and organizations and are confident we are as prepared as we can be to deal with this pandemic as it continues to grow in our regions. In an attempt to keep families well aware of the most recent recommendations by regulatory bodies, below are some of the most recent directives:

  • No Visitation – Multiple agencies have prohibited all visitation to Skilled Nursing facilities and Assisted Living/Enriched Housing Facilities. We continue to diligently work to ensure we have sufficient and effective methods of communication in place so residents can communicate with their families during this time.
  • No Communal Dining – The Federal Government has prohibited communal dining in the Skilled Nursing Setting. While there are a few exceptions to this as medically necessary, all meals in our Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living/Enriched Housing Facilities are being served to our residents in the comforts of their room. We are enlisting all of the staff we can to ensure everyone has the assistance they need to eat and continue to receive the nutrition they need to stay healthy.
  • No Group Activities – A directive has also been given by the Federal Government to prohibit all group activities. Our residents need just as much if not more socialization during this period so all of our activity and facility staff are working together to ensure residents have individual activities to do, and remain actively engaged.

While these are just a few of the near overwhelming guidelines and precautions we are facing, I wanted to ensure all of our residents, families, friends and employees that Heritage Ministries is continuing to put the safety of our residents at the forefront of everything we do. I would encourage you to continue to check our Facebook page and websites for important updates.

Heritage Ministries has had the pleasure of serving members of our community throughout its 130 years of history. There have been trying times in the past and there will be many more difficult times in the road ahead. The constant during that time has been the unwavering support of our residents and their families, the dedication and passion of our employees, and God’s faithfulness in every situation. As we expect this virus to have even more of a direct impact on our communities in the coming weeks, we will continue to need that same dedication, support and prayers to ensure the health and wellbeing of all of those entrusted to our care.

Sincerely,
Mark Smeltzer
Regional Manager Skilled Nursing Operations

UPDATED 3/18/2020

Letter to Friends of Heritage

As COVID 19/Coronavirus is an ever-changing, fluid situation, we want to provide an update of new restrictions that will be implemented immediately. These are in addition to the steps we outlined in our letter to you last week. Please know, our response team is diligently monitoring updates and recommendations from local, state, and federal agencies on an hourly basis and will make any necessary changes to continue to ensure the health of our residents.

Effective immediately*:

  1. We will be offering grocery delivery services to our independent living residents to help mitigate risk by reducing your off-site travel
  2. At this time, we are asking for non-medically necessary visitation to stop. In the case of essential visitors, a screening form must be completed. Any exceptions to the screening or this practice will be at the sole discretion of the facility administrator
  3. At this time, we are asking our residents to adopt the following best practices and guidelines as they have been communicated from various governmental bodies:
    1. Avoid group gatherings over 10
    2. Self-isolation if over the age of 65
    3. Reduce unnecessary travel and appointments
    4. Utilize grocery delivery service as offered above
    5. If you must leave the building, a screening form must be completed upon re-entry
    6. There will be no group dining; meals will be delivered to apartment residents
    7. No group activities
    8. IL residents in cottages or homes may order take-out meals which can be picked up outside the main entrance if applicable

At this time, there continues to be NO confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in any of our communities. The steps we are implementing are directly tied to the recommendations of the CDC, as well as state and local health departments, and we will continue to adjust our policies and procedures as needed. The facilities will continue to reach out to families with any changes as able, and we encourage you to monitor our websites and Facebook pages for the latest facility information. Administrators will also be communicating updates as they occur.

We are committed to the safety and well-being of our residents and have put these measures in place to keep our residents safe. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the facility with any questions or concerns you may have and bear with us as we work to take quick action when needed while trying to keep our residents and families well informed of these changes. Working together, we can minimize the impact of this virus on our community and continue to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living to each and every resident in our care.

*Please note, these guidelines are specifically for independent living residents, and do not apply to other levels of care.

Sincerely,
Lisa Haglund
Vice President of Marketing, Sales, and Development
On behalf of the Heritage Leadership Team

UPDATED 3/14/2020

COVID-19 Update

We are closely watching the events unfold surrounding COVID-19. The situation is evolving quickly and we are working around-the-clock to stay on top of it. Expect continued communication, to keep you all up-to-date on the ever-changing needs and requirements for staying ahead of this situation.

Our residents, the children,and families we serve are counting on us to help them today and in the future. Our teams have mobilized and created a COVID task force to quickly share information and implement changes as needed.

Below is a recap of what Heritage has implemented across all communities, as well as how our employees can help to keep everyone safe and well-cared for.

What Heritage is doing:

  • We are continuously monitoring the situation to ensure we have the latest information to share with all of our locations.
  • We have increased the cleaning schedule and sanitizing at all of our locations.
  • We have analyzed our supply chain to identify any potential shortages and are working to shore up potential gaps.
  • We are utilizing multiple contact methods to communicate with employees, residents,and families.
  • We have a number of online collaboration tools that will be used in the absence of face-to-face meetings.
  • We have capabilities currently in place at a majority of our locations to promote “virtual visiting” for residents and families. We have additional solutions coming soon to enhance the systems already in place.
  • We have provided adjustments across each community to effectively do our part in flattening the curve and risk.

Heritage is dedicated to ensuring our communities, employees,and those we serve remain in a safe environment. We are taking what we believe to be the most proactive approach in an ever-changing situation. Our goal is to continually assess the situation and take the necessary actions to prepare for any changes. We are deeply grateful for, and humbled by, our employees, residents, families, and communities who are working together to ensure the safety and well-being of those we serve – thank you! Now more than ever, we will embrace our mission with grace, love, and compassion,while we continue to promote “Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living.”

Sincerely,

Lisa Haglund
Vice President of Marketing, Sales, and Development
On behalf of the Heritage Leadership Team

UPDATED 3/13/2020

Letter to Friends of Heritage

Dear Friends of Heritage,

As you are aware from news reports, there are confirmed cases of Coronavirus/COVID-19 occurring in our state. Heritage Ministries is committed to taking the appropriate steps and precautions in order to keep our residents and employees safe. Although there are no suspected or confirmed cases here in our community at this time, we are taking proactive steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our residents and staff. The steps we are implementing are directly tied to the recommendations of the CDC, as well as state and local Health Departments, and we will continue to adjust our policies and procedures as needed.

To comply with directives from Governor Cuomo and New York State Department of Health, we are, effective immediately, restricting all visitation at our Skilled Nursing Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities at this time. We are actively trying to reach out to families personally to inform them of this change. The facilities will continue to reach out to families with any changes as able but encourage you to monitor our website and Facebook page for the latest facility updates.

All facility staff are working on systems to be able to allow family members to communicate with their loved ones via telephone or video conferencing. Please contact the facility to have them assist in setting up specific times so we can ensure all residents and families have the ability to do so.

The facilities are now limiting larger gatherings of employees and residents and keeping them to small groups at this point to limit possible exposure. Our activity and dining service staff are working with facility staff to ensure we are still promoting each residents’ highest well-being and making all of their nursing and non-nursing related needs continue to be met daily.

Heritage Ministries is committed to the safety and well-being of our residents and has put these measures in place to first and foremost keep our residents safe. We have a team in place that is diligently monitoring news updates and guidance from local, state, and federal agencies on an hourly basis and will make any necessary updates to continue to ensure the health of our residents. Please do not hesitate to reach out the facility with any questions or concerns you may have and bear with us as we work to take quick action when needed while trying to keep our residents and families well informed of these changes. Working together, we can minimize the impact of this disease on our community and continue to promote Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living to each and every resident in our care.

Sincerely,
Mark Smeltzer
Regional Manager of Skilled Nursing Operations

UPDATED 3/13/2020

Visitation Update

To comply with directives from local and state Departments of Health, WE ARE RESTRICTING ALL VISITATION at our skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities at this time. Visitation hours for independent living communities are 10am to 7pm.

 

UPDATED 3/10/2020

Statement from Heritage Regarding COVID-19

David Smeltzer, Heritage president and CEO recognized this week that Heritage is prepared should COVID-19 coronavirus reach Chautauqua County. Heritage presently serves over 1,200 seniors in their independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing communities throughout the county.

Smeltzer stressed that while Heritage currently has NO confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus, they are taking precautions.

He shared, “At Heritage, our residents and those we serve are our highest concern. The health and safety of both our residents and staff is of the utmost importance, and we are taking action to reduce the risk of exposure for all. The steps we are implementing are directly tied to the recommendations of the CDC and New York State Department of Health, and we will adjust our steps if those recommendations change. We are not holding events that bring outside groups of people, and are minimizing large group and outside trip activities to lessen the chance of exposure. Our staff has been well trained in preparation to support our residents.”

Presently, visitors are being limited at all Heritage communities, and any individuals, including vendors and employees are being screened daily before entering a Heritage building. Those who exhibit any symptoms, have recently traveled, or have been near anyone ill with symptoms are not currently being granted entrance.

Heritage staff has prepared extensively for any potential cases in the area. Lisa Haglund, Heritage vice president of sales, marketing, and development, explained that she has confidence in the team. “Heritage has taken a proactive approach to prevent the spread and transmission of COVID-19 within its communities. Heritage has formed a COVID-19 task force, including experts in the fields of nursing homes, and senior housing, and includes a CDC certified infection preventionist. I have the utmost confidence that this team of experts have prepared Heritage to respond in a manner that keep our residents, staff, and families safe.”

UPDATED 3/4/2020

Statement from Heritage Regarding COVID-19

At Heritage, our residents and those we serve are our highest concern. We would like to assure the public that we currently have no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) at Heritage. The health and safety of both our community members and staff is of the utmost importance, and we are taking action to reduce the risk of exposure for all.

The steps we are implementing are directly tied to the recommendations of the CDC and the New York State Department of Health, and we will adjust our steps if those recommendations change.

  • Effective immediately, we are asking visitors to not enter our communities if they are exhibiting any type of symptoms or have recently traveled to any area of concern.
  • We are limiting events that bring outside groups of people to Heritage communities and are minimizing large group and outside trip activities to lessen the chance of exposure.
  • Our staff has been well trained in preparation to support our residents.

We thank everyone for their patience and cooperation. Working together we can minimize the impact of this disease on our community.